The Most Common Antibiotics for Cats: Learn What You’re Giving Your Cat

The Most Common Antibiotics for Cats: Learn What You’re Giving Your Cat

Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD

Antibiotics have changed the nature of medical treatment over the past 80 years. Since the 1940s, they have been used to treat a vast range of bacterial infections present in humans. Infections that were largely untreatable or incurable before the introduction of antibiotics. It was also during this time that veterinarians and researchers also began to use antibiotics for cats.

After all, as we’ve discussed in our articles before, we are not so different from our cats and dogs. We have similar diseases, illnesses, and infections, so it makes sense that we would have similar treatments for them. This article discusses everything you need to know about antibiotics for cats.

What Are Cat Antibiotics Used for?

Antibiotic drugs are usually prescribed to treat infections, in particular, bacterial infections like eye infections, urinary tract infections, and respiratory infections in cats. Which type of antibiotic the veterinarian prescribes will depend on a host of factors including the type of infection, severity of the illness, as well as the age and health of the cat. In addition to bacterial infections, cats consume antibiotics to treat certain types of fungal and parasitic infections as well.

Antibiotics for cats are used in two ways. First, they are used to kill microorganisms that invade your kitty’s body and make them sick. Second, they don’t kill the microorganisms, but they inhibit them from growing and spreading. 

Just like with humans, cats need to consume the entire course of prescribed antibiotics for them to be effective. Even if you give your cat most of them, if they don’t take all of them, then drug resistant bacteria can develop and your cat’s illness will persist and possibly worsen. This is true even if the visible symptoms have subsided.

Common Antibiotics for Cats

Different antibiotics are better suited to eradicating different types of bacteria. This holds true both for the felines and for the humans who consume them. Depending on your cat’s health and what type of microorganism is afflicting them, the vet will prescribe a different antibiotic. Below are some common antibiotics for cats and the associated infections that they are combating against:

  •         Clavamox: Which is often used to treat urinary tract infections and soft tissue infections in cats.
  •         Metronidazole: is a class of antibiotics that are often used to treat diseases such as Giardia and Trichomonas in cats.
  •         Doxycycline: this is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that has been used to treat conditions like Toxoplasma, Chlamydia felis, and periodontal disease in cats and dogs.
  •         Enrofloxacin (Baytril): is commonly used to treat a range of respiratory and skin infections in cats.
  •         Cephalexin: is commonly used to treat a range of infections including bacterial diseases that cause skin and urinary tract infections in cats.

The above five antibiotics are prescribed to cats the most, essentially because those are the antibiotics that are used to treat the more common bacterial infections in felines. The below antibiotics are also prescribed to cats for various illnesses and infections:

  •         Gentamicin: Respiratory infections, pneumonia, ear infections, and more.
  •         Azithromycin: has been used to treat Lyme disease in cats, Streptococci infections, chlamydia, and Staphylococcus infections.
  •         Oxytetracycline: Infections caused by protozoa, sinus infections, as well as feline infectious anemia.
  •         Penicillin derivatives: This class of antibiotics is often used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections such as wounds, abscesses, and bites.
  •         Fluoroquinolones: This class of antibiotics can treat conditions such as meningoencephalitis, osteomyelitis, deep skin infections, and local or systemic infections in cats.

·         Metronidazole: may commonly be used to treat protozoan infections as well an inflammatory bowel disease in cats and dogs.

Side Effects of Antibiotics in Cats

Cat antibiotics can be accompanied by a variety of side effects, usually varying based on the type of antibiotic administered. Most of the side effects of antibiotics in cats are the result of the fact that when consuming them, they don’t just target the bacteria causing the sickness, but can also go after the good bacteria that are meant to be in your cat’s bodies and which perform important functions. Some of the resulting side effects of antibiotics include:

  •         Rash or allergy
  •         Fever
  •         Kidney or liver damage
  •         Lethargy
  •         Diarrhea, vomiting and other stomach- and digestion-related problems
  •         For antibiotics that are injected, an infection can develop by the injection point

Some of these side effects may sound scary. However, when properly administered under the guidance of a veterinarian, the benefits of using antibiotics for your cat far outweigh the potential risks. With that said, if you notice any of these side effects, or if any of them become severe or appear to be causing your cat discomfort, contact your vet as soon as possible to see what they recommend you do.

Conclusion: Antibiotics for Cats

Antibiotics are a miracle of modern medicine, for both ourselves and our pets. However, it’s important to always follow your vet’s instructions about dosage and administration, and never give your cat your own leftover antibiotics or those that were prescribed to a different animal.

If your cat has been prescribed an antibiotic to treat an infection, remember to fulfill all your feline and canine medication needs at Express Vet Pharmacy.